April 11, 2013 War on Workers News

NY Teamsters, NOW fight for equal pay for school safety agents

Teamster Nation
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday heard demands for equal pay for equal work from Teamsters and NOW officials. More than 5,000 Teamster school safety agents are bringing the largest pay discrimination suit in the United States against the City of New York.

The school safety agents, mostly women, receive $7,000 less pay a year than male-dominated peace officers in the city. Members of Teamsters Local 237 want Bloomberg to intervene in the class action suit and fix the problem.

The agents are put in harm’s way every day.  They had to confiscate five firearms in the last five weeks. Their duties include patroling New York City’s schools and making arrests. They are authorized to use deadly force while protecting children, teachers and staff.
Read the source story here.

Nasty anti-worker bill considered by US House

Teamster Nation
Now the anti-worker extremists in the U.S. House of Representatives want to shut down the NLRB. They’ve introduced a bill that would effectively take away the board’s ability to function.

That would strip working men and women of rights and protections that they fought long and hard to win over 80 years ago, according to Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa.

Fortunately, President Obama says he’ll veto the bill, H.R. 1120, if it passes.

[…] Hoffa wrote a letter today to members of Congress today urging them to vote against the bill. Here’s the letter …
Read the source story here.

Extremists Attacking Sick Leave: Enough To Make You Sick


By James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Published in The Detroit News on April 10, 2013

The anti-crowd is at it again. Not satisfied with anti-worker, anti-union and anti-living wage, extremist politicians are now anti-earned sick leave.

Legislation was approved by committees in the state House and Senate that would ban local governments from requiring employers to allow paid or unpaid sick leave that isn’t required by federal or state law.

It’s no surprise that this latest shameful attack on Michigan workers isn’t the only one. Once again, the plan to dial back the clock on workers is a vast, coordinated assault engineered by the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, to indenture workers to the almighty powerful corporations.

The onslaught is in response to movements in cities such as New York, Washington, Seattle and Portland, Ore., to require businesses to offer paid sick leave to workers.

Corporate-backed bills like what we’re seeing here at home have passed in Wisconsin, Louisiana and Mississippi and are being considered in Florida, Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma and Washington.

It’s enough to make you sick.
Read the source story here.

Private prison hellhole outed in Ohio

Teamster Nation
Question: What’s even more disturbing than private prison hellholes in Ohio?

Answer: Private prison hellholes for debtors in Ohio.

ThinkProgress today reported on the swift decline of the nation’s first privately owned (not just operated) prison in Northern Ohio:

In an unprecedented experiment fueled by budget concerns, Ohio sold a state prison to Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest private prison corporations in the country, in 2011. Within a year, a state audit of Lake Erie Correctional Institute, the nation’s first privately owned state prison, found rampant abuse and abysmal conditions well below state standards. The CCA prison was given another chance to pass, but flunked another inspection four months later. Independent reports continue to illuminate filthy, broken facilities, as well as much higher rates of crime and violence in and around the prison. On Tuesday, the ACLU of Ohio sent Ohio lawmakers a comprehensive timeline of the prison’s decline since CCA took over.

The Lake Erie prison is now reportedly overcrowded at 130 percent capacity, with single-person cells holding 3 inmates each, according to internal documents obtained by the ACLU. Assaults on guards and other inmates have skyrocketed by 40 percent.

In fact, on the same day the ACLU released their timeline, the Lake Erie prison had to tamp down a series of inmate fights that lead to the confinement of 500 inmates.

We’ve known for a long time that privately operated prisons suck, so it’s no surprise that a privately owned prison would suck even worse.
Read the source story here.

Hoffa Hears Earful From Mechanics in Charlotte

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa visited US Airways mechanics and related in Charlotte on Wednesday, April 10 to hear about the problems and challenges they are facing. The workers, who are leaders in the campaign to form a union with the Teamsters, gave him an earful about their problems and the terrible representation they are getting from the IAM.

“It’s great to be in Charlotte and hear your concerns and learn firsthand what needs to be done,” Hoffa said. “This campaign is about improving your futures, and as Teamsters you will have the backing of the fastest growing and strongest aviation union in North America.”

Mechanics shared their concerns about outsourcing, the lack of a voice on the job, a worthless grievance procedure and more. They also discussed the poor representation from the IAM.
Read the source story here.

Teamsters BAs tell members of Congress NOT to rubberstamp the next trade deal

Teamster Nation
Dozens of Teamster business agents visited members of Congress today to tell them they should vet every word of the Trans-Pacific treaty for its impact on American families. (They picked a good day to do it, too; it’s a pleasant walk through the cherry blossoms from the IBT to the Capitol.)

If you haven’t heard of the Trans-Pacific treaty, or TPP, well, that’s intentional. It’s a deal among a dozen or so Pacific Rim nations that’s being negotiated in complete secrecy — except for corporate lobbyists who have access to it. The 17th round of negotiations will start in May in Lima, Peru. Negotiators hope that the 18th round, some time late this summer, will be the last.

The BAs are in Washington this week for basic training (which, of course, no one does better than the Teamsters). Part of that training involves advocating for working families at the national level.

The Teamsters are all for open markets — so long as those open markets don’t mean trading good American jobs for lost jobs and lower wages, or high-quality American products for food that poisons our families. Our business agents are reminding their congressional representatives that it’s up to them to make sure every aspect of this market-opening deal benefits working families — and not big corporations.
Read the source story here.

Obama threatens veto on Republican bill to curb labor law enforcement

Daily Kos
President Obama has threatened a veto of yet another Republican attack on labor law enforcement. House Republicans will vote this week on a bill that would prevent the National Labor Relations Board from doing its work until either the Supreme Court rules on the validity of Obama’s recess appointments to the board or the Senate confirms enough members for a quorum. According to the statement of administration policy:

H.R. 1120 would needlessly place the rights of millions of American workers in jeopardy and erode financial security and economic opportunity for middle class and working families. […] The Administration rejects the premise of this legislation, as the NLRB properly continues to act while courts resolve legal challenges to the President’s recess appointments, which the Administration believes are valid and constitutional. By depriving the NLRB of statutory authority, H.R. 1120 would compromise the President’s constitutional authority to make recess appointments. The legislation poses additional constitutional concerns because it would effectively remove the President’s recess appointees from office, authority that resides with the President.

As the statement observes, Congress created the uncertainty around the NLRB when Republicans in the Senate blocked Obama’s nominees to the labor board, and Congress could solve it. But that’s today’s Republican party: They’d rather pass a bill saying a federal agency can’t do its job than do their own job by allowing up or down votes on presidential nominees.
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Boeing email warns 787 tech staff of layoffs

The Seattle Times
An email from a senior manager thanked them for saving the troubled jet program, and then announced layoffs are coming. These manufacturing engineers act as a critical link between the engineers who design the jets and the mechanics who build them. SPEEA’s Ray Goforth said he’s heard from members who reacted “with anger and dismay at the dismissiveness” of the message. He summarized the note as “thank you very much, we don’t need you anymore.”
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Another Teamster organizing victory in CA!

Teamster Nation
Please welcome our new brothers and sisters who just voted to become members of Local 63 in Covina, Calif. They are employees of the American Red Cross who work in the Logistics, Kitting and Warehouse departments in Pomona.

Local 63 already represents other job titles at the Pomona facility. Our new members bring the bargaining unit to nearly 200.

Randy Cammack, secretary-treasurer of Local 63 and an international vice president, said the Teamsters are proud to continue the strong representation of Red Cross employees in Pomona.

Red Cross employees are represented by other Teamsters locals in the Detroit, Cleveland, Boston and Philadelphia areas.
Read the source story here.

Indiana Bill Would Limit Cities From Requiring Some Worker Benefits

Indiana Public Media
A bill awaiting Governor Mike Pence’s signature would limit what restrictions can be put on work rules, and some in Bloomington fear it will stop some cities from fighting for better worker compensation.

Senate Bill 213 states that counties, cities, towns, and townships cannot require employers to provide benefits, terms of employment, working conditions, or attendance and leave policies that exceed those enshrined in federal or state law.

Indiana University Maurer School of Law professor Deborah Widiss says that runs contrary to the legislature’s principal of home rule.
Read the source story here.

Happytown: State House wants to block sick-time ordinances

Orlando Weekly
Ever since last year’s Orange County imbroglio, in which the County Commission ignored more than 50,000 local petitions asking the county to put an earned sick-time initiative on the ballot, the writing has been on the wall – and sometimes on the tablet or smart phone. Chambercrats in Tallahassee were going to deliver the “kill shot” to prevent any such popular uprising from ever happening again (partially, perhaps, because local leaders would likely be too busy defending their poor texting habits in court). Hell, even Mayor Teresa Jacobs delivered a cleverly choreographed olive-branch dance (following a court order) indicating that the sick-time measure would finally make it onto the county’s primary ballot in August 2014, even though she supported the pre-emptive House Bill 655 and its author, state Rep. Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, which would have prevented counties from passing such ordinances in the first place.

On April 4, in an absurd bit of political theater, the Florida House of Representatives approved the pre-emption bill by a margin of 75-43. During floor debate, Republicans argued against something that wasn’t even happening – a statewide sick-time measure – leaving most of them looking like wealthy dogs chasing their nonexistent tails.
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Wisconsin GOP lawmakers want to limit impact of courts

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
With some of their major legislative achievements thwarted by the courts in the past two years, Wisconsin Republicans are advancing a bill that would limit the ability of circuit judges to block state laws for the long term.

A former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice said she thought such a change would violate the state constitution – a notion a chief sponsor of the bill rejected.

Since 2011, circuit judges have blocked all or parts of laws backed by Republicans that required voters to show photo ID at the polls, limited collective bargaining for public employees and expanded the governor’s power over administrative rules. Under a measure announced Wednesday, such injunctions would be automatically stayed as soon as they were appealed – meaning laws that were blocked would be put back in effect until a higher court issued a ruling.

Rep. David Craig (R-Big Bend), a chief sponsor of the measure, said the bill would provide stability. He noted that challenges to state laws are ultimately decided by higher courts in many instances.

“We’re trying to speed up the process,” Craig said. “One judge elected by one extremely small fraction of the state . . . isn’t going to have ultimate say-so over law.”

But former state Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske called the bill an outrageous violation of the judiciary’s power.
Read the source story here.

Maine governor leans on state workers to deny unemployment insurance claims

Daily Kos
Maine Gov. Paul LePage may have outdone himself in his anti-worker crusade. At a meeting last month, the famously unsubtle Republican is reported to have tried to bully state Department of Labor staffers into deciding more unemployment-benefit cases in favor of employers over workers.

LePage scolded about eight administrative hearing officers and their supervisors, complaining that too many cases on appeal from the Bureau of Unemployment were being decided in favor of employees. He said the officers were doing their jobs poorly, sources said. […]

LePage was asked by someone at the luncheon meeting about the 30-day federal deadline for holding an appeals hearing and what to do if an employer were to argue that more time was needed to prepare a case. LePage, who is not a lawyer, said that if allowing additional time for employers meant missing the federal deadline,“so be it.”

This isn’t the first time LePage has tried to skew unemployment decisions toward business owners.
Read the source story here.

Margaret Thatcher, Pawn of the Banksters, Scott Walker’s role model

Teamster Nation
It figures that Wisconsin Job-killer Gov. Scott Walker would lament the death of Margaret Thatcher. She was a job-killing, privatizing, union-busting machine and she made most Britons poorer and politically weaker. In the end, only the banksters and bililonaires benefited from her leadership.

That appears to be Scott Walker’s dream.

The Cap Times reports:

After expressing sadness Monday on Facebook over Thatcher’s passing, Walker added a quote from the Iron Lady that fits with the image he has sought to establish throughout his divisive governorship:

“I am not a consensus politician. I’m a conviction politician.”

What crap. Walker is as much a hapless pawn of Wall Street and the Koch brothers as Thatcher was of the UK’s own banksters.
Read the source story here.

Labor Archives of Washington wins prestigious national honor

The Stand
Five years ago, labor history in Washington State was facing a crisis. Labor activists and unions played central roles in the region’s history, but the evidence of their accomplishments was being lost. Their papers and records were being thrown away forever, or when saved, sitting forgotten in local libraries.

Recognizing the urgent need to preserve and share its history, Washington’s labor movement teamed with the University of Washington’s Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies and the University of Washington Libraries, to launch the Labor Archives of Washington. Local unions raised the funds to establish the Labor Archives in 2010, spearheaded by a 3-year $150,000 matching grant from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and a 3-year fundraising campaign by the Washington State Labor Council. County labor councils and unions throughout Washington State have provided critical support. To date nearly 100 labor organizations and more than 175 individuals have contributed almost $500,000 to the Labor Archives Fund.

Now, after less than three years of operation, the Labor Archives has won a major award from the American Library Association and will be honored at the upcoming ALA national conference.
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Millennium announces deal to use local construction labor if coal dock approved

The Daily News
Millennium Bulk Terminals officials on Wednesday announced an agreement to hire local union workers to build a proposed $643 million coal export dock west of Longview, solidifying the support of a major ally for its upcoming political battle with environmentalists.

“I know we have some heavy lifting to do for you guys, and we’re ready,” Dave Myers, executive secretary of the Washington Building and Construction Trades Council, told Millennium officials at a signing ceremony at company headquarters.

Local trade unions are also happy to avoid the slight a few years ago at the EGT terminal, which hired mostly out-of-town workers to build the grain dock at the Port of Longview.

The agreement will obligate contractors who build the coal terminal to hire local union construction workers.
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Trumka: Budget Cuts to Social Security, Medicare ‘Wrong and Indefensible’

The budget that President Obama released today is drawing intense criticism for its cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called those cuts “wrong and indefensible.”

A president’s budget is more than just numbers. It is a profoundly moral document. We believe cutting Social Security benefits and shifting costs to Medicare beneficiaries—while exempting corporate America from shared sacrifice—is wrong and indefensible.

The budget cuts Social Security cost-of-living adjustments by adopting a so-called “chained” CPI formula that amounts to a $130 billion cut to Social Security recipients. Edward F. Coyle, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, says using the chained CPI is:

Nothing other than unfairly balancing the budget on the backs of America’s seniors, who’ve done nothing but work their entire lives towards earning the promise of Social Security’s guaranteed benefits.

In addition, the budget shifts $64 billion of health care costs to Medicare beneficiaries.
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Transportation chief urges lawmakers on CRC funds

The Daily News
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood told Washington state lawmakers Wednesday that they must commit hundreds of millions of dollars toward the estimated $3.1 billion Columbia River Crossing project this year or risk losing up to $1.2 billion in federal support.

LaHood was in Washington state advocating for the project to replace the Interstate 5 bridge between Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash.

“We are ready to move this project along,” LaHood told reporters after meeting with lawmakers. “We need the commitment of the Washington House and Senate to say that they’re willing to put up several million dollars and commit to this project.”
Read the source story here.

In March, Worldwide Protests Gained Momentum

Nation of Change

Global demonstrations in March turned out hundreds of thousands of protesters, raising oppositional voices against austerity measures, police violence, school closures and ecocidal legislation. Many gatherings celebrated the people’s power, namely International Women’s Day demonstrations and the commemorations after Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez’s death. Latino communities and farm workers also honored civil rights organizer César Chávez’s birthday with marches, proclaiming the continued fight for food democracy and farm workers’ rights.

Meanwhile, as budget cuts continue to ravage Europe, protests gained momentum and participant numbers swelled. International hunger strikes also cast a spotlight on human rights violations, from Palestinian hunger striker Samer Issawi to inmates at Guantanamo Bay.

Here is a rundown of some of the March events and protests that drew popular support across the globe …
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The President’s Budget

The New York Times
President Obama knew full well that many Democrats and liberals would be sharply critical of his decision to propose reducing the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment, one of the centerpieces of his 2014 budget, which was released on Wednesday. In fact, he was counting on it. He wanted to show that he was willing to antagonize his supporters to get a budget compromise, putting Republicans on the spot to do the same.

Naturally, Republicans refused. Curbing the rise of Social Security benefits and raising Medicare premiums for higher-income people were two of the highest priorities for Republican leaders just a few months ago. Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, said last fall that if Mr. Obama proposed them, he would consider allowing tax revenue to go up.

But, on Wednesday, when the president actually did so, Mr. McConnell dismissed the budget as unserious. Not a single Congressional Republican could be found to consider a budget that combines twice as much in spending cuts as it raises in tax revenues.
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KOMO TV and Radio Acquired by Right-Wing Broadcast Group

The Stranger
Seattle-based Fisher Communications, which owns and operates KOMO-TV, KOMO Newsradio, and KVI-570 along with 19 other TV stations in eight states, has agreed to be acquired by Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcasting for $373 million. The $41 per share price represents a five percent premium over yesterday’s close, and is up 44 percent since KOMO actively started seeking a buyer in early January.

But while that may be good news for Fisher shareholders, it kinda sucks for audiences here in Seattle. Sinclair is infamous for forcing its stations to air right-wing propaganda just before elections. Just two weeks before the 2004 presidential election, Sinclair ordered its 62 stations to air the Swift-Boat-funded “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal” without commercials, a film that slandered Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s war record. During the 2010 midterm elections Sinclair stations ran a 25-minute infomercial that described President Obama as a “socialist” and accused him of raising money from Hamas. Last year, Sinclair stations in swing states Ohio and Florida ran anti-Obama election eve specials in the slot normally occupied by Nightline.
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